Four score and four years ago, the Baltimore Ravens squared off against the New York Giants in a Week 6 matchup at Met Life Stadium.
The Ravens were a modest 3-2 heading into the matchup as the Giants had a record of 2-3.
Both Joe Flacco and Eli Manning remained the franchise quarterbacks for their respective organizations and still looked to lead their teams to playoff births during the latter part of their careers.
The Manning to Odell Beckham connection still remained one of the league's most dangerous at the time, and the Baltimore secondary, with Jimmy Smith as the lockdown cornerback, needed to limit Beckham’s playmaking abilities to give the Ravens a win.
Baltimore’s offense primarily succeeded upon the arm of Flacco (on his good days) as well as the consistency from Dennis Pitta in addition to Terrance West’s nose for the end zone.
Strong play from both offenses resulted in a high-scoring game with plenty of splash plays.
Let’s see how the game went.
To open up the game, Flacco and the Baltimore offense immediately began to march down the field.
On a third down and nine, Flacco dropped back and launched a deep ball, while under pressure, to a streaking Breshad Perriman for a 41-yard gain.
On the same drive, Flacco found Kyle Juszczyk for another chunk play, this time going for 18 yards.
The Ravens were unable to find the end-zone as a Flacco-to-Pitta completion fell short of the goal line.
Justin Tucker finished off the drive with a short, 23-yard field goal to give the Ravens an early 3-0 lead.
New York’s first drive ended abruptly after one play.
A short, five-yard ball from Manning to Beckham was jarred loose by Eric Weddle and recovered by Zach Orr at the Giants’ 30 yard-line.
Flacco and the Ravens began their second drive with superb field position.
In only six plays, the Ravens scored the game’s first touchdown as West hopped over the defense at the goal line.
Baltimore leads 10-0 early.
After six punts, with three by each team, the Giants finally gained some offensive momentum as Manning began to pick apart Baltimore’s defense.
Relying on the short passing game to move the chains, Manning and the Giants found themselves in the Baltimore territory after seven plays.
While slowly chipping away at Baltimore’s defense, Manning took a deep shot and found Roger Lewis for six in the corner of the end zone to cut Baltimore’s lead to three just before the two-minute warning.
Looking to give themselves more cushion before the half, Flacco and the Ravens found themselves in Giants territory after three plays, but a third down and ten sack pushed the Ravens out of Giants territory, forcing a punt.
With a minute remaining in the first half, Manning and the Giants tried to gain some momentum, but a Sterling Shepard intended pass was intercepted by Will Davis to end the first half.
To begin the second half Manning and the Giants orchestrated the game’s best drive.
Despite a non-existent rush offense led by Rashad Jennings, Manning still managed to find gaps in the Ravens defense and effectively move the football.
On this particular drive, Manning relied on his pass-catchers and found a way to distribute the ball to four different players.
Lasting five minutes and twelve seconds, New York’s 15-play drive didn't result in pay dirt, but only a short field goal from Josh Brown.
Giants tie the Ravens at 10-10.
On Baltimore’s next drive, incompletion and penalties prevented the offense from moving the sticks, eventually leading to a punt by Sam Koch.
After a modest punt return, Manning and the Giants offense looked to take their first lead.
On a third and short, a deep pass intended for Sterling Shepard was undercut and intercepted by Tavon Young.
The Young interception marked Baltimore’s second forced turnover of the game, the first of which came at the very beginning of the game when Beckham had a ball stripped from his possession.
Looking to score points off of their turnover, Flacco and the Ravens began their drive deep in Giants territory.
The Ravens were unable to move the chains and sent Tucker onto the field to take a 13-10 lead.
On their next drive, all it took was one play for the Giants to seize the game’s momentum and take control.
On first and ten, Manning took a deep shot for Beckham, who had a step on Chris Lewis-Harris, and placed it perfectly in his breadbasket for a 75-yard touchdown.
Giants lead 17-13.
Needing to find an offensive spark, on the first play of their next drive, Flacco went deep for Mike Wallace and connected for a 75-yard gain.
In prime position to retake the lead with a touchdown, the Ravens failed to do so as three goal-line rushes went for no gain and a subsequent turnover on downs.
West failed to find the end zone on a fourth and goal toss play.
Starting deep in their own territory, the Giants offense couldn't put together a drive and give the ball back to the Ravens.
Starting at their own 27 yard-line, Flacco and the Ravens quickly gain ground and enter Giants territory because of a 42-yard pass interference penalty.
However, Baltimore’s offensive drive stalled once again, allowing Tucker to finish the job with a 35-yard field goal.
New York leads 17-16.
At the beginning of their next drive, Manning continued to put the ball in the hands of the offense’s best playmaker in Beckham and immediately gained 43 yards.
Like Baltimore’s previous drive, New York’s drive stalled as Josh Brown was sent out for a short, 31-yard field goal attempt.
Brown nailed it to extend New York’s lead to four points.
Down by four with 5:54 left, Flacco and the Ravens put together their best drive of the game.
Flacco went into clutch mode on a fourth down and one, finding Kamar Aiken for a 22-yard gain.
Three plays later on a third down and four, Flacco took another deep shot, this time to Breshad Perriman.
Lots of contact at the top of the route between Perriman and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie caused another defensive pass interference penalty.
Now at the Giants eight yard-line and eventually making their way down to the two, a third and goal West run resulted in pay dirt and a Ravens lead.
Baltimore retook the lead, 23-20.
Needing a defensive stop, the Ravens force a fourth down and one for Manning and the Giants.
Sticking to what had already been working, Manning found Beckham on a short slant route, and Beckham did the rest.
He took the slant, used his speed, and went 66 yards for the touchdown.
Giants took a 27-23 lead in less than a minute.
With 1:19 left in the game, Flacco tried to orchestrate a game-winning drive.
Gaining traction, Flacco’s attempts at a game-winning touchdown are restricted to heaves to the back of the end zone as Baltimore ran out of time outs.
A pass breakup in the end zone sealed Baltimore’s fate and solidified a Giants win.
In a very entertaining contest, the Giants win 27-23.
What can we expect this Sunday?
In another crucial matchup for the Ravens, they will need to come out with a victory to sustain an opportunity for a playoff spot.
The Giants will come into M&T Bank Stadium still with a shot at winning the NFC East division.
With Daniel Jones appearing to be recovered from his hamstring injury, the Baltimore defense is presented with an interesting task in stopping a streaky and sometimes dangerous Daniel Jones.
Baltimore’s defense must have an opportunistic mindset against Jones as the quarterback is among the league's most turnover-prone throwers.
New York’s defense, led by Patrick Graham, has also been performing considerably well late in the season.
Impact players such as Logan Ryan, James Bradberry, Jabrill Peppers, and Leonard Williams must be held in check by Baltimore’s offense.
Baltimore’s offense, however, has appeared to rediscover their identity late into the season and will need to rely on the recent stellar play of Lamar Jackson and J.K. Dobbins to move the football on the ground.
Baltimore’s offensive line figures to face a tough matchup, but with the insertion of Ben Powers at right guard, the line has become stabilized by his consistency and run-blocking abilities.
Overall, I anticipate a very chippy game in this high-stakes matchup, but with December Lamar Jackson coming in with an 11-1 career record in this month in addition to the turnover-prone tendencies of Daniel Jones, expect Baltimore to come out on top with a commanding victory.